Master Drawings New York (MDNY), which took place in its usual slot towards the end of January to coincide with the major art auctions, hosted online exhibitions from 18 dealers – the majority US and UK based – offering drawings, paintings and sculpture.
Longstanding MDNY dealer Guy Peppiatt, who usually travels from London to exhibit, said he was “very pleased with how it went” and sold eight pictures in all. They included a fierce scene of a lion fighting a tiger and a leopard by Edwin Henry Landseer (1802-73), which had an asking price of £12,500.
London-based drawings dealer Stephen Ongpin was one of the few to also hold a physical, appointment-only exhibition in New York.
The dealership sold around nine works in its show of 19th and 20th century landscapes held at a gallery space on the Upper East Side. This included an atmospheric watercolour of the seaside town of Hastings in East Sussex by James Abbott McNeill Whistler (1834-1903) to a new client with an asking price of $95,000.
Ongpin said he usually sells double the amount at MDNY, with around 80 visitors making it through the doors this year compared with over 500 in previous years. However, those that attended were “serious collectors” with one client coming in-person from outside New York to buy two drawings.
“The American market is still very strong, and we are lucky that the people who tend to collect drawings are very passionate,” he said. “They have continued to collect despite not be able to travel much or go to fairs.”
First-time exhibitor Karen Taylor sold an Italian drawing of Pendedattilo in Calabria by Edward Lear (1812-88) as part of her exhibition of 18th and 19th century landscapes, with a few other items “still being mulled over”.
While she said the virtual set-up “worked as well as they can”, there can be no substitute for an in-person exhibition in her opinion. “The drawings community is aching to get back to see the real thing and to pursue the conversations we all enjoy having in front of the work.”
Winter on the web
Running simultaneously with MDNY was the first online edition of The Winter Show, America’s venerable and high-octane art, antiques, and design fair. With an improved website featuring a ‘new virtual platform’, the 67th staging featured some 60 international dealers, including a number of UK galleries, representing a mix of fine and decorative arts from antiquity to the present day.
Lewis Smith of London dealer Koopman Rare Art said he received “many enquiries from visitors that were browsing our space” and remarked that the online galleries “looked fantastic”. A Charles II silver basin with the makers’ mark of Thomas Minshall sold with an asking price of £35,500.
London folk art gallery Robert Young Antiques made a clutch of sales to private collectors. Among the sold pieces was a striking portrait bust, which had an asking price of £18,500.
“We produced a printed catalogue alongside a digital version and populated the winter show site with our 20 permitted pieces. The catalogue featured 29 pieces, of which 22 have sold,” said the gallery’s Florence Grant.
Joan B Mirviss, a New York gallery specialising in Japanese art, made around a dozen sales to collectors from the US and abroad, with the majority coming during the VIP preview and the first day.
“Though we were uncertain of how a fully virtual format would be received, our collectors embraced the digital challenge, and we are both relieved and delighted with the results,” the gallery said.